Hot tub and BBQ boats relaunched at Canary Wharf

Floating through Canary Wharf... a bit of a dip in for office workers.

Floating through Canary Wharf... a bit of a dip in for office workers. - Credit: Skuna Boats

Tub boats filled with hot water to dip into are now bobbing around in West India Dock to hire out as lockdown eases. 

They’re the idea of water fanatic Tommo Thompson who gave up his day job to float his “tub boats” idea now relaunched at Canary Wharf. 

Taking it easy in a tub boat in the docks.

Taking it easy in a tub boat in the docks. - Credit: Jay Khatri/HotTugUK

The tubs first appeared on a trial run on the Regent’s Canal in 2018. 

“I saw tubs in Holland and thought it was a mad concept,” the 35-year-old ex-civil servant admits. “Then I realised this mad idea would be brilliant in east London.” 

They proved so popular that Tommo needed room to expand - he floated the idea to move to West India Quay the following year and "help office workers unwind”, and got the green light from the Canal and River Trust.

Barbecue party bobbing along on a tub boat at Canary Wharf

Barbecue party bobbing along on a tub boat at Canary Wharf - Credit: Jay Khatri/HotTugUK

The vessels are electric and self driven, with wood-fired fresh water heated to 38 degrees. He also runs boats with built-in barbecues for hire. 

Business was bobbing along nicely, with tubs being hired out for 90-minute bathing cruises, when the pandemic sank all outdoor business activities. 

Tommo relaunched his Skuna Boats fleet of eight tubs last month, all self-drive — but you don’t need a pilot’s licence. Just bring your own food. 

Barbecue champagne party... among forest of skyscrapers surrounding the docks at Canary Wharf.

Barbecue champagne party... among forest of skyscrapers surrounding the docks at Canary Wharf. - Credit: Jay Khatri/HotTugUK

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The vessels go so slowly that “there’s no chance of crashing” or going down with all hands, and they are made in Holland where the idea first came to the surface.

However, an ambitious Tommo is launching a British-made tub by the end of the year. 

He has also opened a floating Barge East restaurant on the River Lea at Hackney Wick, by the White Post Lane footbridge to the Olympic Park. 

Next he is set to launch the tubs in Essex at the huge Thurrock Lakeside Shopping Complex near Grays on May 22. 

Tommo Thompson's first tub boat venture catches the eye of passers-by along Regent's Canal in 2018

Tommo Thompson's first tub boat venture catches the eye of passers-by along Regent's Canal in 2018 - Credit: Jay Khatri/HotTugUK

Tommo admits being fanatic about water and even named his baby daughter River when she was born in January.  

His partner Loti, 34, thought giving up his day job as a start-up consultant to float the tub boat venture was "a bit crazy” but eventually came round to the idea.  

The couple and baby even live on a houseboat moored on the Thames at Vauxhall.

But Tommo doesn’t commute to Canary Wharf in one of his tubs, even though they’re seaworthy and have health and safety licensing — they’re just too slow for his fast business ambitions. 

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